Google chairman Eric Schmidt, one of the highlights at an Internet freedom conference in the Dutch city of The Hague in the Netherlands, took swipe at Carrier IQ, likening the mobile analytics software to a keylogger:
It’s a key-logger, and it actually does keep your keystrokes, and we certainly don’t work with them and we certainly don’t support it.
Schmidt said the openness of the Android platform sometimes results with unwanted software wreaking havoc on the users’ handsets:
Android is an open platform, so it’s possible for people to build software that’s actually not very good for you, and this appears to be one.
Carrier IQ, a mobile analytics service, has turned into quite a controversy after security researcher Trevor Eckhart discovered that carrier Sprint worked with phone vendors to install the app secretly on cell phones. Its sole purpose is to gather data on the phone use, keeping track of everything you do on the handset – including keystrokes – without your consent. It’s the mobile industry’s worst kept secret, but the media outrage prompted many phone vendors and carriers to distance themselves from Carrier IQ.
Senator Al Franken is urging Carrier IQ and Sprint to detail how specifically the software works and what data it transmits while a German watchdog is independently seeking to question Apple over its use of the Carrier IQ software in iPhones. Carrier IQ last Thursday disputed spying accusations, maintaining its software “does not record, store or transmit the contents of SMS messages, email, photographs, audio or video”. Even though Carrier IQ doesn’t appear as nefarious on iOS as on other platforms, Apple nevertheless issued a statement acknowledging existence of Carrier IQ in iOS 5 and confirming plans to “remove it completely in a future software update”.